On the 14th anniversary (11 January) of the first detainees being taken to the now notorious US military detention centre at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, Amnesty has repeated its call for the camp’s closure and said that the allegations of mistreatment of British nationals and residents at Guantánamo should be investigated as part of a wider independent, judge-led inquiry into the UK’s involvement in torture. ... [Media Release - 8/1/16]
Afghanistan: 70 children die from pneumonia in Herat in 3 months [Pajhwok - 11/1/16]
Kabul police arrest woman for using false identification to meet the first lady [Khaama - 11/1/16]
At least three civilians were killed in a roadside mine blast in eastern Nangarhar province early Sunday, local officials said.
The incident took place in Kama district of the province after a convoy of security forces were driving through the area.
However, three civilians on a motorcycle hit the mine and died in the incident, district governor Abdul Wahab said. ... [TOLO News - 10/1/16]
Thanks for numbering every box and putting the LNP last! [Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Media Release - 11/1/16]:
Queensland's LNG industry passed another milestone today with the first shipment from the $US24.7 billion APLNG project destined for Asia.
Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham said the milestone was a culmination of the efforts of thousands of workers engaged by APLNG joint venture partners Origin Energy, ConocoPhillips and Sinopec and their contractors. ...
Toxins found in fracking fluids and wastewater, study shows [Yale University - 6/1/16]
The Southland Swedes working group today released its final report into the incident which left hundreds - if not thousands - of sheep and cows dead across the region.
In 2014 farmers across Southland reported sick, dead and dying livestock - after they'd been fed on swedes - mostly a new herbicide tolerant variety developed and sold by PGG Wrightson Seeds.
Farmers were subsequently warned by industry experts not to feed the HT Swede variety to cows when they were heavily pregnant or with calves - because the chemically mutated HT swedes were producing unnaturally high levels of glucosinolates that are toxic to livestock.
One of the members on the Southland Swede working group, Dairy NZ's Southland regional leader, Richard Kyte, said today's final report delivered the science behind the warnings.
"The HT Swedes in the plant samples showed a higher level of glucosinolates which have caused a problem with animal health. "The recommendation we are making is certainly not to feed them during the Spring," Dr Kyte said.
The working group only took samples of the HT Swedes during the spring, so it was unable to say whether the crop was safe for livestock at other times of the year.
But the Green Party said it was outrageous that the killer mutant swedes remained on the market at all. ... [RNZI - 11/1/16]
... It's true,
Everyone I meet on the street is sweet on you ...
'Xavier Rudd Is Not My Son', Spectrum 
Just interested to know if the deleting post rumours are true- Why has such an outspoken activist got no voice to explain what's going on to his fans? I'm so disappointed - so very deeply sad he can't be bothered to make a statement to the devoted fans who have followed him for years. I love lost count how many times I've seen him. He's an amazing artist but beyond that an amazing man. I love this guy, but it's beyond ridiculous now. I've lost so much respect for him. Right now he just looks like a hypocrite. [Xavier Rudd Facebook Page - 7/1/16]
@wikileaks [11/1/16]: In letter, PM @TurnbullMalcolm says that #Assange has asked for nothing since Dec 2010, but ...
Declaration of Abandonment: Australia’s position towards Assange [Justice 4 Assange]
Letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in relation to Julian Assange [Kellie Tranter - 8/12/15]
... ''As much as I love this country,'' Bowie told the magazine, ''it's probably one of the most racially intolerant in the world, well in line with South Africa.'' ...
[Sydney Morning Herald - 6/5/13]
Let's Dance: How Bowie played the outback [BBC - 18/3/14]
"Time for Dutton to go" is partisan crap.
It's time for a Royal Commission.
Australian government must be held accountable [Amnesty - 11/11/15]:
... Our elected officials should not be able to brush off evidence of abuse.
We call on the Prime Minister to do the right thing, and end the secrecy.
The time has come for a Royal Commission into Operation Sovereign Borders.
Only a Royal Commission, with the power to assess all the evidence, will uncover all the facts.
This public statement has been signed by the following media personalities, advocates and sector organisations:
Rosie Batty, Founder and Director - Luke Batty Foundation, Australian of the Year 2015
Letters to the Editor, Sydney Morning Herald [10/1/16]:
Your latest report on abuse of asylum seeker children on Nauru is horrifying ("Former teacher tells of abuse of boys and girls", January 9-10).
When will the United Nations or some other responsible body take action against Australia to insist that we show some humanity towards these people as it appears our government won't do anything – despite the popularity of our new Prime Minister. It is a pathetic cop-out to say it is a matter for the Nauruan government.
Once upon a time we might have been able
to feel some pride in being Australians; now we can feel only shame.
I am bewildered as to why the recent
goings on at the elite schools Ravenswood and MLC have attracted so much
attention while the terrifying abuse and assaults on captive asylum seeker
children on Nauru will once more be tomorrow's fish and chip wrappings. The
usual demeaning platitudes will be all that these forgotten folk will get and we
will turn our heads away once more. We deserve history's harsh judgment.
My considerable disgust with our governments and the handling of asylum seekers is yet again rocketed up the scale by your story of asylum seekers' lives on Nauru, that of children in particular.
If our new Prime Minister really wants to make his government look cleaner than the last couple, he needs to reverse all this.
What a cop-out for the Department of Immigration to piously state that school governance was "a matter for the Nauru government". Let's not mince words here – our government bribed that shambolic bunch, which cannot manage its own dysfunctional society, to take asylum seekers, and for the basest of reasons: playing politics with other people's lives because it might buy a few votes from the rednecks.
The appalling waste of our money was compounded with the inclusion of Papua New Guinea and Cambodia in the same process, neither in a position to manage what is required.
How can any of those responsible for this dreadful state of affairs, pollies and bureaucrats alike, sleep at night? If they do, they have no souls. May all of them personally have a 2016 of the most miserable kind imaginable.
In the light of teachers and refugee
students alleging physical abuse and sexual harassment in Nauran schools, there
has never been a better time for our agile Prime Minister to close this black
site detention centre and release these vulnerable children. We own this
The life of the 70 or so asylum seeker children on Nauru is truly shocking and our country is responsible.
We should bring these children and their
families to Australia. If we cannot do the right thing, at least we should
provide safety and a decent education for them in the detention camp.
Prime Minister Turnbull must do something
to assist these poor people and the others that we have washed our hands of.
If we can bring in 7000 refugees from the Syrian
conflict surely we can release these hapless and helpless people now held in
detention camps and welcome them into Australia. Prove we really are a
Middle Ridge (Qld)
John McDonald ("Tom Roberts' Bailed Up", January 9-10) concludes his article on the iconic Tom Roberts painting Bailed Up that is on display in the exhibition at the National Gallery with the statements: "It is the first painting to capture and celebrate a unique local trait: the cool, unflappable, she'll be right spirit with which Australians like to believe they can meet any emergency. After all, it's only a hold-up, it's not the end of the world." Perhaps.
The enduring mystery then, is how, in the last two decades, Australian politicians have succeeded in making us so terrified of our country being swamped by a relatively small number of boat people (compared with numbers in other parts of the world), and so terrified of the terrorist threat when the death toll from terrorist attacks is small compared, for example, with the road toll.
Do we need a reminder that boat people
have been arriving since 1788 and it is not the end of the world? Or a reminder
that we did bring about the end of the world for the original inhabitants?
… Muhammad lived in a giant concentration camp with tens of thousands of Rohingya. The government has taken away citizenship and statehood from the Rohingya over the years, and they are deprived of free movement.
Muhammad wanted to sneak away by boat, paying human traffickers to join a tide of desperate Rohingya boat people seeking passage to Malaysia.
“We wouldn’t let him, because it was too dangerous,” said his mother, Sara Hatu.
Then Muhammad suffered a scratch on his heel. Nobody thought much about it, but soon he had trouble opening his jaw.
He apparently had caught tetanus. Like most of the children in the concentration camp, he wasn’t able to get vaccinations, including a simple tetanus shot.
After he got sick, the local medical assistants and the on-and-off clinic couldn’t help him. Finally his mother got special permission for him to leave the camp to be hospitalized, but by then it was too late. “After two days, he came back as a corpse,” his mother said.
The United Nations has been dysfunctional in Myanmar. Another internal U.N. document shared with me (both provided by a critic of U.N. passivity on the issue) warns that U.N. staff members in Myanmar are feuding with one another and it raises “the question of possible complicity of the U.N. in potential crimes against humanity.” ... Myanmar’s Peace Prize winner and crimes against humanity [New York Times - 9/1/16]
Entry into Myanmar by foreign visitors, including businesspeople, tourists and students, will get easier starting today. ... [Myanmar Times - 11/1/16]
These calendars can get you into trouble in Thailand and Myanmar [Global Voices - 8/1/16]
@WoodsideEnergy [3/1/16]: News update: Woodside Discovers Gas Offshore Myanmar ...
South Korea flexes muscles against Pyongyang, considers more 'strategic deployments' [Channel News Asia - 11/1/16]
The United States deployed a B-52 bomber on a low-level flight over its ally South Korea on Sunday, in a show of force following North Korea's nuclear test last week.
The B-52, based in Guam and capable of carrying nuclear weapons, was flanked by two fighter planes, a U.S. F-16 and a South Korean F-15, in a low flight over Osan Air Base, before returning to Guam, the U.S. military said in a statement. ... [Reuters - 10/1/16]
Members of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force 1st Airborne Brigade take part in an annual new year military exercise at Narashino exercise field in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, on Sunday.
About 500 soldiers and 19 aircraft conducted an island defense display based on a scenario of countering a military invasion of Japanese islands. [Japan Today - 11/1/16]
A Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) supported hospital has been hit by a projectile in Northern Yemen causing at least four dead and 10 injured and the collapse of several buildings of the medical facility. Three of the injured are Médecins Sans Frontières staff, two in critical condition.
According to our staff on the ground, at 9.20am one projectile impacted the Shiara Hospital in Razeh district, where Médecins Sans Frontières has been working since November 2015. Médecins Sans Frontières cannot confirm the origin of the attack, but planes were seen flying over the facility at the time.
At least one more projectile fell near the hospital. The numbers of casualties could rise as there could still be people trapped in the rubble. All staff and patients have evacuated and patients are being transferred to Al Goumoury hospital in Saada, also supported by Médecins Sans Frontières. ... [MSF Media Release - 11/1/16]
Second phase of Yemen peace talks likely to be postponed [Daily News Egypt - 10/1/16]
An Auckland protest joined thousands of people around the world who are marching against the execution of a scholar in Saudi Arabia.
Around 300 people marched down Queen St on Saturday in memory of religious scholar Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr who was executed by the Saudi Arabian authorities.
Nimr al-Nimr was executed on January 2 for his opposing political views, which Saudi Arabian Sunni rulers described as terrorism crimes. ... [Stuff.co.nz - 10/1/16]
Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr execution: Hundreds protest outside Canberra's Saudi Arabian embassy [ABC - 7/1/16]
Growing insecurity triggers new South Sudan displacement [UNHCR - 8/1/16]:
... A recent UN mission to Yambio found nearly 200 houses burnt down in the neighbourhood of Ikpiro and several hundred others looted. People have taken refuge in the town centre or moved to nearby villages, Edwards said, adding that UN estimates put the number of people displaced in Western Equatoria's Yambio and Tambura counties at 15,000 since the start of December.
The violence is also driving people to flee their homes and head hundreds of kilometres to the south-east into neighbouring Uganda, where 500 refugees have been registered every day since the beginning of this week – a quadrupling in recent numbers. As well as the violence, refugees cite food insecurity due to failed crops as a reason for their flight.
Last month, UNHCR reported that fighting between local groups known as the "Arrow Boys" and the South Sudan army in Western Equatoria had displaced over 4,000 people into a remote region of north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. ...
We Come As Friends explores the nightmare of South Sudan [The Intercept - 22/8/15]:
As a filmmaker, Hubert Sauper does not take the road less traveled. That would be far too easy. He doesn’t, in fact, take roads much at all. First he spent two years on his French farm building his own ultralight plane out of tin and canvas and lawnmower wheels. Then, in 2010, he flew it from France to southern Sudan. And then things got interesting. ...
The Austrian-born Sauper spent the next two years flitting around the country in his rickety, two-seat, single-engine prop plane, keeping his eyes open and his camera rolling.
The result, We Come As Friends (which opened in New York on August 14 and will screen nationwide throughout the fall), is an improbable, cinematic magical mystery tour of a documentary: a portrait of a new nation being born out of the ashes of civil war amid a swarm of self-professed do-good American evangelicals, expat humanitarians, Chinese oil workers, and South Sudanese power brokers — most of whom seem to do anything but good.
Ukraine falls victim to US neocons' 'regime change' experiment [Sputnik News - 8/1/16]
Terror attacks continue across Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [10/1/16]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Strikes in Syria
Fighter, attack, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 11 strikes in Syria:
-- Near Abu Kamal, a strike destroyed an ISIL crane.
-- Near Raqqah, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units.
-- Near Ayn Isa, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed four ISIL buildings.
-- Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike destroyed 16 ISIL skid mounted gas and oil separation plants.
-- Near Manbij, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL bunker, and wounded an ISIL fighter.
-- Near Mar'a, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and damaged an ISIL building.
-- Near Washiyah, a strike destroyed an ISIL excavator.
Strikes in Iraq
Coalition forces used rocket artillery, fighter, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 15 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
-- Near Albu Hayat, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit, wounded an ISIL fighter, and destroyed an ISIL weapons cache and an ISIL building.
-- Near Habbaniyah, a strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position and denied ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Haditha, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Kisik, two strikes destroyed five ISIL assembly areas and denied ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Mosul, two strikes struck an ISIL headquarters building and destroyed an ISIL excavator.
-- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL weapons caches, and two ISIL assembly areas.
-- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, wounded three ISIL fighters, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL tactical vehicle, an ISIL training facility, an ISIL vehicle bomb and an ISIL recoilless rifle.
-- Near Tal Afar, a strike struck an ISIL-used bridge.
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [10/1/16]:
Baghdad: A roadside bomb has exploded southwest of Baghdad resulted in 8 deaths and injuries....
Baghdad: A roadside bomb has exploded north of Baghdad resulted in 9 deaths and injuries....
Anbar: News sources: A car bomb has exploded targeting the government forces at the road which is located between Baghdadi Base and Kilo 160 area west of Anbar resulted in 13 deaths and 18 injuries of the forces elements in addition to destroying of 6 military vehicles...................
Baghdad: A roadside bomb has exploded in No'ieriya neighbourhood in Baghdad Al-Jadeeda resulted in death and 5 injuries......
Baghdad: A militant attack targeted an employee in the ministry of culture in Doura area south of Baghdad yesterday killing him.......
Syrian Army establishes control over areas in Lattakia, Air Force destroys ISIS trucks and tankers [SANA - 10/1/16]
Images of malnourished children from the town of Madraya have emerged on the internet. The photos are so shocking that I refuse to share them as they are a testament to the evil that lies within humans. It is inconceivable that such suffering can be brought onto innocent children who had no choice or say in the war.
What has emerged however is the myth that ‘Assad and his army’ are besieging the town, and that he is the one bringing this suffering upon his own people. This is the very people that he claims he is fighting to protect from jihadist forces.
The Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) ran with the line that Madaya has been ‘under siege for seven months by Syrian government forces and Hezbollah militias.’ It makes a passing mention that Ahrar ash-Sham are holed up in the town of 40,000 people, but fails to mention that Ahrar ash-Sham are a key ally to Al-Qaeda’s franchise in Syria, Jabhat Al-Nusra and shares its radical ideology.
Even if Ahrar ash-Sham are holed up in the city, how does this even remotely justify the food shortages and the blockade the government is imposing on Madaya? Nothing can justify such a blockade.
However, what if I was to suggest that Madaya is not under a food blockade from ‘the regime’, but that the food shortage is caused by the Ahrar ash-Sham militants attempting to force the hands of the Syrian government to ease the campaign on the besieged terrorist group?
This very real prospect has not been considered by usual propagandist from the ABC, BBC, The Guardian and the usual ilk who cannot go on and do simple investigative work as it might threaten their simplistic paradigm on understanding the multifaceted and complex Syrian War. … [FARS News Agency - 11/1/16]
Calais Jungle: anger over fate of child refugees denied UK asylum hearing [Guardian - 10/1/16]:
… Under a clause in the EU’s Dublin Regulation covering hearing of asylum claims, refugees who have close family members in a particular EU country can claim asylum there. But according to campaigners, the Home Office has in numerous cases chosen to ignore that right.
Masud was among a group of children listed in a legal challenge against the Home Office that will be heard in London on 18 January. Lawyers had handpicked the young Afghan as one of the most desperate cases in Calais – a vulnerable and lonely child who deserved to be urgently reunited with a family member.
“Masud was a 15-year-old boy in need of protection, a boy in need of his sister here in the UK,” said the Bishop of Barking, Peter Hill, a spokesperson for campaign group Citizens UK.
“Every single night, desperate children are climbing into lorries and jumping on to train tracks to try and reach their families. Our government must act to honour its obligations and help these children.”
On Saturday, Citizens UK launched an online petition demanding that David Cameron act to stop more teenagers from dying as they attempt to reach their relatives.
Shadow immigration minister Keir Starmer, who visited the Jungle on Friday, announced that he would be writing to the home secretary, Theresa May, on Monday, asking why pledges she made last year to implement the Dublin Regulation and help the most vulnerable migrants – unaccompanied children – had led to so little action on the ground.
Over the last few days, agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been rounding up and deporting dozens of members of Central American families seeking refuge from extreme violence and dire economic conditions in their communities of origin.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has described the move as part of an effort to “secure” the U.S. border and has announced that “additional enforcement operations such as these will continue to occur as appropriate.”
These raids are the latest chapter of what can only be described as a prolonged U.S. government war on migrant families, and specifically those coming from the most dangerous and economically deprived parts of Central America.
With a politically-motivated crackdown mentality, the Obama Administration ignores the ways in which U.S. policies are driving the exodus. We do so at our own peril, and at the peril of thousands of children who have every right to grow up in a safe and loving environment. ... [CIP Americas – 8/1/16]
Several arrested as protesters in NYC slam US immigration raids [VIDEO – Ruptly – 8/1/16]
Australia continues torturing refugees and treating the people of PNG and Manus Island with contempt [Guardian - 8/1/16]:
... The man is employed by Wilson Security, the company subcontracted by Australian immigration department contractors Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield) to provide security at the detention centre.
Guardian Australia was told when police went to the Australian-run centre to question the man, they were informed by staff members – thought to be a manager and a medical practitioner – that the man was in hospital, but he would see police the following day. He was flown back to Australia before that could happen, it is alleged.
A spokesman for the Australian immigration department confirmed the flight but said it had been advised no charges were laid and no criminal investigation was under way.
“The Department and its service providers will cooperate with the [PNG police] on this matter into the future, if required,” he said.
The man was returned from Manus to Australia in December, the spokesman confirmed, based on “medical advice and compassionate grounds”.
He said it was done in consultation with the PNG police, who consented to the man leaving for medical treatment.
But Guardian Australia has been told police are investigating the car crash incident, and have been unable to find a Manus province police officer who was aware consent had been given.
Australian High Commissioner presents credentials to Prime Minister O'Neill [PNG Facts – 10/1/16]
Plagued by brutality, PNG police plan conduct committee [RNZI - 11/1/16]
A group of youths from Australia is visiting a suburb of Port Moresby to help young people find Jesus Christ.
The Jesus Youth Group was welcomed by youths in Morata after being invited by Father Rozario Menezes, the parish priest in Morata. ... [The National - 8/1/16]
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has praised the International Monetary Fund for presenting a frank assessment of the the country’s economy.
A recent IMF report commended the Government for achieving an impressive economic growth in recent years. ... [The National - 8/1/16]
800,000 people short of food in PNG [RNZI - 8/1/16]:
A new assessment in Papua New Guinea has found that about 800,000 people live in areas determined to be critically lacking in food.
A co-author of a compilation of 200 reports from government, NGOs, church organisations and individuals in drought- and frost-affected regions says immediate action is needed to alleviate ongoing suffering.
Mike Bourke says those affected include communities living at high elevations in the Highlands region and in remote parts of the Western province and Milne Bay.
Dr Bourke says although there have been periodic rains in parts of the country the drought situation is getting worse.
"At this stage we have cast a net wide so we don't exclude people and there is another two rounds of assessments going on conducted by different groups in, you know working out of Port Moresby this January and they will be zooming in on the locations we have identified and then really trying to identify the people who are in the greatest need."
Mike Bourke says this is extremely important because of the prohibitive costs of purchasing and delivering food relief for so many people spread all across the country.
... Each came to Israel with a large delegation, and each is interested in cooperating with Israel in the fields of science and technology.
O’Neill is also interested in developing the Defense Cooperation Program that his country has with Israel in order to rebuild and improve the standards of the PNG Defense Force.
Additionally, he is looking to upgrade PNG’s overall security, and bilateral talks on this issue were already underway prior to his arrival in Israel.
PNG and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1978, but until recent years, in which Israel began to pay greater attention to Asia and the Pacific, little was done to enhance diplomatic ties.
In greeting each of the two prime ministers, Peres outlined his vision of a global economy in which companies rather than governments would help alleviate hunger and poverty, motivated by goodwill rather than the imposition of unenforceable laws. ... Prime Ministers visiting President Peres make history [Jerusalem Post - 17/10/13]
Israel cuts gas supplies to the Gaza Strip in midst of winter [Mint Press - 7/1/16]
... Government and industry have managed over the last decade and a half to instill severe complacency in Australia, hoping policymakers’ two big bets on the finance, property and mining sectors would continue to pay dividends far into the future. While these bets paid off in the short-term, genuine productivity-enhancing policies which would diminish the incredible and mostly unearned wealth millionaires and billionaires have siphoned off could then be ignored.
With the Chinese economy beginning to falter, the fear is Australians must now figure out where their economic future lies for the next generation who have been brainwashed into believing that digging up rocks and flipping houses by accumulating a gargantuan mountain of private debt is how a modern western country builds its future. The results will not be pretty. Lindsay Davis [Guardian - 11/1/16]
Major questions were raised yesterday about the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ response to the deadly Yarloop bushfire, with residents adamant they did not receive adequate warnings. ... [West Australian - 11/1/16]
11 January 2016